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June 25, 2001

Serena Williams


MODERATOR: Ladies and Gentlemen, Serena Williams.

Q. What does it feel like to be back at Wimbledon?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, it feels great. I was walking out there on the court today. To be, you know, against the green, lush grass, in the white dress, I just felt, you know, back at home. I love it here. I feel really special.

Q. Can you tell us what it feels like to play on the grass? How are you finding that the court was playing today?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, it feels great to play on the grass. It's a bit quicker, so you have to make sure you're doing all the right things.

Q. Is it consistent with the way it was in past years? Do you find it faster?


Q. It's quicker or it's the same?

SERENA WILLIAMS: It is, it's the same. I've been practicing on it for a few days. When I went home, I was practicing on the grass also. It's suitable, the same. It's always the same. They really do a good job, you know, of taking care of it for the years to come.

Q. How pleased were you with your performance today?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, me, I'm kind of an insatiable person. I've never had a perfect match. I think I lost a little focus out there today. I started thinking about different things. My eyes started wandering. I found myself down 15-40 a few times. But other than that, I think pretty much my game was okay.

Q. Would you have liked to have had a tougher match?

SERENA WILLIAMS: You know, everyone deserves a break every now and then. I always have a tough match. I just think I played well today. It's not that she wasn't tough. She might have been a bit nervous. Who wouldn't be?

Q. You haven't played that much. Are you concerned about that absence of match toughness that you need for an event like this?

SERENA WILLIAMS: No. I'm not concerned at all. I have a lot of match toughness. Everything should have been done in practice. If I'm not ready, then I probably should have to practice harder. But I definitely feel fit, in form - not only physically, but mostly mentally, I think.

Q. When you won The Open a year and a half ago, did it feel like more of these major titles would come faster?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, for sure. It's been way too long since I won another major. But don't hold your breath. It's time to let go.

Q. Are you fitter than you were at the French Open?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Am I more fit than I was at the French Open (laughter). Sorry. Obviously, yes. I've been working harder. I've been working more hard. I've been doing more. I was fit there. I think I'm more match tough here now.

Q. What have you been doing since then?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Oh, been practicing. You know, I do lots of secret things I don't really share.

Q. How do you get strong mentally? You mentioned that's an advantage you have now; you feel stronger than before. How does a player work on that?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I think it's tough to be mentally tough. I think that's more or less something that's already inside you. I think one can acquire it, but I think it might take -- hey, you might be 25, 26, 24, before they can really acquire and learn. Other than that, I think that's innate.

Q. What is the grass court like at your house, condition-wise, versus something like here? Is it similar grass? Obviously, humidity would be greater when you're practicing at home.

SERENA WILLIAMS: Everyone thinks it's hot here. Everyone's complaining about the weather. This is like heaven compared to what it was like back at home in Florida. You step outside, you're just filled with sweat. It's so humid and hot. But the grass court there, there's no grass court like Wimbledon. I mean I've never been in the tournament in the Netherlands. I know there's a tournament in Eastbourne. It's beautiful grass, but it's not like the one here in Wimbledon. It's really nice, but it doesn't play like the one here.

Q. Would you say this is your best surface?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I'd say it's one of my best, yeah. I guess. Doesn't really matter what I play on. I grew up on hard. For five years I played on nothing but clay. I love the grass. So, whatever you interpret that to be.

Q. After what happened to you last year between you and Venus, what's the feeling between the two of you as to what might happen this tournament?

SERENA WILLIAMS: We're both taking it one match at a time. One down, six to go, hopefully.

Q. Next opponent is Barbara Rittner. Any thoughts?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I'll ask Venus. She's played her a few times. I know she's from Germany. I'll definitely consult Venus. I didn't know that.

Q. At the French you said there were a couple of things on your serve you hoped to correct before getting here. How much more comfortable do you feel now that the tournament has started?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I'm feeling definitely more comfortable. I've been working on it. I think it's definitely a bit better. We'll see as the rounds go on how it is. In practice right now, it's doing very well.

Q. You said that there were moments during the match your eyes were wandering. Was there anything particular that you saw?

SERENA WILLIAMS: More my mind than my eyes. My mind was thinking of different things.

Q. Anything in particular?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Nothing in particular. Just you know, what I might do when I get home (laughter). I shouldn't have been thinking about these things. I'm reading a book, and I was thinking about the book. I'm like, "Wait a minute, I can't do this."

Q. What was the book?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I'm reading a book called "The Eye of Rah" (phonetic). It's really good. Usually I'd be finished by now. But between the practice and the matches, you know, there's no time.

Q. What's it about?

SERENA WILLIAMS: It's a book about this guy and his travels in Egypt, his adventures. It's really good. I love it.

Q. Does the beginning of each Grand Slam feel like a really great opportunity, a clean slate, another opportunity to get what you want?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I've been feeling like that for like six times now. I'm still taking it one match at a time. You know, hold up the championship trophy again soon.

End of FastScripts....

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